Anisul Hoque, Translated from the Bengali by Mohammad Shafiqul Islam
Do you know, Mr Trump, for deaths of thousands of Americans you're responsible? You're liable for the heartrending laments of millions of
mothers losing children around the world?
Do you know, Mr Putin, for humankind's helpless submission
to a tiny microbe—neither an animal nor a plant, nor even a lifeless
General Secretary of the United Nations, António Guterres, do you know
you've totally failed to stop the spread of this deadly virus country after
President of the World Bank, Mr David, do you know
for tears, laments, and panic among humankind, you're responsible?
The tiger in a New York zoo is affected by coronavirus—
you've carried that virus to him.
Yes, you all.
Mr Kim, do you know?
Mr Moon, Mr Li, Mr Abe—
do you know?
And Mr Boris, you?
You've brought tears to every eye on earth.
You've spawned fear in minds
and ailments in souls.
A mother can't embrace her children anymore,
neither can children hug their old father.
No more can lovers and the beloved kiss each other.
Now there's an acute crisis of land for burial.
Frozen mortuaries are abounding in dead bodies too.
The earth has an abundance of oxygen
but humans don't have ventilators to breathe in
because you've made this world so cruel.
America's 2021 budget for submarine fleet is
128 billion dollars.
12,800 crore dollars.
10 lakh 88 thousand crore taka only for submarines!
Now there's no money to buy ventilators!
New York hospitals can't afford PPE!
Slipping into dustbin bags, doctors and nurses are working!
Mr Modi, with your one-year budget of atom bombs,
you could supply drinking water to every Indian.
Then for a little water, a Rajasthani woman
wouldn't have to walk six miles on torrid sand
under the blazing sun!
With the one-year budget of atom bombs,
you could help every poor Indian build a toilet!
Every morning sixty crore people of your country
answer a call of nature under open sky—what are you proud of?
Mr Imran Khan, with one-year budget of atom bombs,
you could establish one hundred thousand primary schools!
And ten thousand hospitals every year!
Your globalisation has carried coronavirus
to the lungs of an indigenous young girl at Amazon.
With a snap of coronavirus, your globalisation is turning
African indigenous woodlands yellow.
Unable to endure hunger, youths are committing suicide
in remote hovels of Bangladesh.
Do you realise, Mr Modi, your Citizen Amendment Act
couldn't stop even a single virus?
The youth who walked two-hundred kilometers
from Delhi had to embrace death—
aren't you responsible for yellow blood frozen in his heart?
Do you realise, Mr Imran Khan, tanks
don't ratify security?
Your F-16 is just like a cow chewing the cud,
and on the Baluchistan-Iran borders, thousands of people
are congested inside tents roasting in sweltering heat—
no bathrooms, no water . . . despite symptoms, no scopes for tests!
Already infected, they're spreading contagion
all through Pakistan! No facility! No humanity!
Mr Trump, Mr Modi,
do you realise, building walls or putting up barbed-wire
on the borders, no one can protect themselves?
Do you realise atomic missiles
can't protect you?
We know, humankind won't be conquered.
We know, people will buy life after paying the price.
Born again, humans will come close—
they'll embrace each other yet again.
Someday a vaccine will be discovered. Soon the last coronavirus
will be destroyed from the world.
But another virus will still exist—
its name is greed.
The world will still keep jingoism,
racism, class conflict,
communal clash, and extremism.
IMF boss, Ms Christalina, do you know
you're responsible for this ignominy of humankind?
Mr Jeff Bezos, do you know
a six-year-old child has died of a coronavirus
that you've spread?
Mr Ambani, can you realise
only money can't safeguard you?
If 80 percent resources of the world belong to 20 percent people,
then coronavirus is inevitable.
If 98 percent people's freedom is imperiled to only two percent,
then coronavirus is inevitable.
But just after one year you'll forget everything.
But only you aren't responsible,
we have liabilities too
for degrading humankind,
for making the distressed humans weep tears.
We'll also forget everything.
We'll elect you President of America again, Mr Trump.
We'll elect you President of Russia again, Mr Putin.
And they'll make you President of World Bank,
Mr David Malpass.
They'll recruit young executives in World Bank, who'll send
toilet rolls to Amazon, and tell the Africans
to use hand sanitiser.
The chimneys will spread smoke over. The sky will be dark again.
With poisonous wastes, the atmosphere of this blue planet will darken.
Bangladesh, Maldives, Netherlands . . . will drown
with seawater rising.
Again Trump will say, while using a toothpick,
everything's in control.
Corona is a hoax.
Climate change is a spoof!
Felani will hang on the barbed wire.
On the Mexican border will die Rivera.
On the cold covered van on the East European border
will lie dead thirty homeless people.
Aylan will lie dead upturned on the sands of the sea
as if a doll wearing red outfit, in which there'll be stuck
three seashells, plea to live in his fist,
and dry salt in the pocket.
Stunned, the little child Omran will see the houses
falling down on his head, and blood stuck on his lips!
Burnt to death, Nusrat will say—I'll convey the oppression to the whole world.
Our souls are full of virus,
and you're its champions,
Mr Trump, Putin, Li, Modi, Imran, Boris, and Abe.
But the virus doesn't differentiate between the rich and the poor, doesn't care
about missiles, atom bombs, CAA, barbed wire, or border walls,
because atom bombs can't ensure security.
With deadly weapons, you can destroy this blue planet six times,
but can't save a single child—
missiles can't provide security!
There's no deadlier virus than discrimination and inequality!
There's no more dangerous epidemic than exploitation and greed!
There's no more disastrous calamity than jingoism and communalism!
There's no deadlier virus than war and envy!
We want vaccines to destroy viruses in our souls.
We want ventilators to nurse this earth,
the ventilators that help build a pure world,
where only a few people won't decide
how 780 crore people will die,
where 780 crore people will compose
their own and joint manifesto for survival,
the green manifesto affirming safety
of each and every animal, plant, forest, hill, river, sea, and human!
Anisul Hoque is a Bangladeshi writer, poet and journalist who won the Bangla Academy Award for literature in 2011. He works for Prothom Alo, and is a fellow of The International Writing Program, University of Iowa. Mohammad Shafiqul Islam, author of Inner State (Daily Star Books, 2020) is Associate Professor, Department of English, Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, Sylhet. Email: email@example.com